Fashion (Turn To The Left!)

BY : DoctorYnot
Category: +G through L > The Loud House
Dragon prints: 2393
Disclaimer: I do not own The Loud House, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Hey everyone. First of all I'd just like to apologize if it seems like I'm ignoring Make It Wit Chu. I know that story has people waiting on it even now, and I'm super happy that anyone cares about it and wants to see more, and I'm sorry that it takes me so long to write each chapter. On a positive note, it's up to 2000 words and change, so at least there's a seed there and it shouldn't take me much longer. In any case, I had another idea for a story while listening to the VA podcast and this one was flowing a lot easier than Make It Wit Chu so I took advantage of it and tried to make something for you guys while I had the spark.

Now, what I ended up writing isn't really like my usual stuff. It's still incest and porn, because those are the things I believe in, but the character dynamics are a little diferent. I know that for some people, heck, I'm one of them, this show is one of the first things that's made them feel happy and peaceful in a long time. Maybe even optimistic. And I know that some people are anxious about the future without Chris in charge. But the fandom has already created a lot of amazing, wonderful stuff, and I'm hoping we can keep creating more no matter what happens out there.

Ultimately I thought what I'd do is make something a little more cheerful than my typical sort of thing, something that will hopefully make people feel good to read it and maybe take their minds off things for a while. What I ended up writing is a Lenicoln set a little bit in the future. On the plus side, I've written most of this story, and all that's really left to do is endlessly re-read it and polish it to make sure it's good enough. That means chapter updates shouldn't take as long as they usually do for me; the next one will probably be in a week. Now with all that said and without further ado, I give you Fashion.

 

 

>Lincoln watched the clock attentively as it ticked down the minutes. It was one of those kitschy faux-Japanese ones from the eighties, and each swing of the plastic tail hanging from beneath it signaled that a second had passed. He watched the cat's eyes jolt to the left and to the right with each tick of its internal mechanisms, the blind, faded porcelain of its pupils somehow forcing him to follow its gaze.
>Or maybe he was just trying to entertain himself.
>The young man pulled his eyes down from the tacky clock hanging in front of him to cast a glance about the doctor's office. It was sharp, clean and well-presented, the dark faux-leather couch and chairs placed elegantly around a glass-and-steel coffee table with several only slightly out of date magazines fanned across it. Nearby, behind a large mahogany desk, sat a pretty receptionist wearing wire-rim glasses and with her long blonde hair pulled into a tight business bun. It was all very fashionable, which is why Lincoln always found his eyes drawn to the laughably out of place clock. He suspected it was a gift from the doctor's mother.
>Lincoln shifted in his seat just a bit to get a better look at the receptionist, bored and looking for any way to help pass the time. She was thin and graceful and though her attire (a dark skirt and jacket paired with a white blouse, all impeccably starched) suggested professionalism, he couldn't help but think that her expression lacked the guile to go along with the look. In fact, he noticed that her eyes were glued to a smartphone that he imagined she thought she was keeping low and out of sight, but the screen reflected off her obviously non-prescription glasses. Lincoln remembered thinking she was his type when he first met her, but had decided that hitting on the secretary of his sister's therapist was probably a bad idea.
>He adjusted in his seat again to look across the room. On the opposite end, on a set of adjoining chairs of the same tight black faux-leather, sat a mother and child. The woman was probably in her mid-forties, wearing a dark crimson pantsuit and fidgeting just a little with her sleeve. The first thing he noticed was how expensive her shoes were. He recognized the brand from hanging around Leni so much; Giovanni DeJean's, which meant they cost at least seven hundred dollars. Lincoln tried not to grimace. Even though his sister had explained the world of fashion to him over and over again, and he'd even been intimately involved in the culture of it lately, he just couldn't understand spending that much money on a pair of shoes. Maybe it was his growing up in such a frugal household that had done it. He made sure never to voice those kinds of feelings out loud though, not since the last time Leni had given him an earful on the importance of being fashionable and how money was, like, no object in the pursuit of style.
>The child next to her looked ten or eleven. She wore all black and her skin was quite pale, reminding him of Lucy, but her clothes were much less expensive than her mother's. She wore a dark sweater that looked comfy, if a little too warm for this waiting room, with some sort of trendy design that he didn't recognize on the front, and black leggings. The most interesting thing about her however was her hair. It was dark with streaks of violet red emanating out from her roots, and from the look of it she'd had it dyed quite recently. The little girl sensed him looking and pulled her eyes up from the portable gaming system she was playing with, giving him a wide grin. He smiled back unsurely until the little girl's mother noticed what she was up to, following her eyes to Lincoln and scowling at him. Lincoln flinched and turned back to the clock sitting in front of him.
>Tick tock, tick tock.

>At last the nearby door opened and his sister emerged, holding a handkerchief up to her nose and blowing as she walked unsteadily into the waiting area.
>"There, there, Leni. Everything's going to be alright."
>She was followed by a man seemingly in his early or middle fifties. He was mostly bald and whatever hair remained on his head had started to gray, but he carried himself like someone used to being respected. He patted the young woman on the back gently and signaled for Lincoln to approach, which he immediately did, springing out of the chair and rushing over instinctively to comfort his big sister. It always upset him to see any of his family cry, but seeing someone as sweet and generous as Leni in pain really broke his heart every time.
>"B-buh-but doctor Greenberg, can't we, like, just...Are you sure I can't-"
>The blonde blubbered disconsolately, not noticing her brother approaching as she turned back to face her therapist.
>"Ep-ep-ep!" The doctor brought a finger up, hushing the young woman. He eyed Lincoln suspiciously as he did so, which made him feel self-conscious. Lincoln guessed he didn't want anything that they'd discussed making its way out of the privacy of his office. He cleared his throat and spoke calmly, soothingly, but with a hint of condescension, taking the tone one might use when talking to a child. The young man was surprised to discover how angry it made him to hear a stranger speaking to his sister like that, but he forced it down. He was a professional, Lincoln supposed, and if he did that kind of thing it must have been because that was what was best right now.
>"Leni," he began, placing a hand on her shoulder, and Lincoln again had to fight the instinct to get between the two. The young woman stopped whimpering just long enough to look the older man in the eyes. "We've talked about this. Those ideas are to be discussed only within my office. I realize that you may be feeling things that are..." He paused just long enough to give Lincoln another glance before continuing, "Confusing. But you must understand, some notions are simply not worth considering."
>The doctor noticed the young blonde's eyes welling up again and he gave a long, weary sigh. "If you find yourself in a moment of distress and are unsure what you might do, you have my permission to resume discussing these feelings with your mother." This seemed to mollify Leni somewhat and, with a sniffle, she lowered the handkerchief from her nose. He smiled and patted her on the shoulder. "There there. Why don't you have a glance at some of the magazines on the coffee-table while I discuss things with your brother, hmm? I even subscribed to a fashion one, just for you!"
>Leni brightened up a little, but as she turned and walked away Lincoln couldn't help but overhear her whine of "They're always so out of date though..." He smiled at seeing her a bit more of her old self before noticing the elderly psychiatrist clear his throat behind him.
>Lincoln turned just in time to have a prescription shoved into his hand. "I am upping the dosage," the doctor declared curtly, "to six hundred milligrams. As always, she should take it with a meal."
>Lincoln stared down at the slip of paper in his hand before turning his eyes back up to the doctor. He seemed stiff, much stiffer than he had been with Leni, but he allowed himself to relax enough to speak a few words to the young man with the unmistakeable note of frankness to them.
>"Your big sister...You'll take care of her, won't you?"
>Lincoln stared at him blankly. He tried to parse the meaning of the words beyond the obvious.
>"What I mean is," he continued, with notable hesitation. There was a pause. "...No. Please, simply see that she gets her medicine. She is a sweet young woman, and we want her to be well."
>Lincoln nodded unsurely and the therapist directed him to his secretary for the matter of the bill. As he turned away and signaled for the mother and child to come into his office he spared one last glance at him, and Lincoln was certain he detected the unmistakeable look of pity from the doctor. The young man was surprised to find himself so shaken by it. It was something he dwelled on, even after he'd swiped Leni's credit card and signed on the receipt. He approached his big sister as she leafed through a Chic Weekly she'd obviously already read.
>"Come on Leni, it's time to go home."
>The blonde perked up right away at the sound of his voice, dropping the magazine back on the table and hopping up to her feet to hug Lincoln's arm.
>"Thanks for taking me to see the doctor, Linky. I hate to bug you like this, it's just sometimes I get so nervous after coming here that it feels like I can't even drive. Like I can't even-"
>Her little brother noticed her getting more and more agitated and cut her off before she could talk herself into a fit. "It's no problem, sis. That's what family's for, right? We take care of each other."
>Leni beamed at him for a second before the exhaustion of her crying spell seemed to catch up to her. She hugged his arm just a little tighter and rubbed her puffy, slightly reddened cheek against his shoulder.
>"Yeah." She answered, her voice tinged with a small note of sadness that made his heart ache all over again. "I guess that's what family's for."
----------------------------------------------------
>They ended up having to fight the traffic the whole way back, but being alone for long spells in the car with his big sister wasn't something he really minded. Usually Leni enjoyed being his passenger while he drove her around, pointing out the various things she saw zooming by the window. She especially liked naming off the articles of clothing she'd purchased at the malls and outlets they drove past. Lincoln always tried to hit at least one when he was ferrying her back and forth. It sometimes meant going a few minutes out of his way but it always cheered her up, so her little brother always planned it into their travel time.
>Today however she was withdrawn and pensive the entire way back. Lincoln had even made sure to drive past her favorite Big Box. Nothing.
>His phone of course had been wailing like a siren almost since they'd left the doctor's office, but he'd set it to silent. He knew who it was on the other end and he didn't want to take that call in front of his sister, especially with how fragile she seemed at the moment.
>"So how was your session today, Len?" Lincoln offered tentatively. He began unconsciously rubbing his fingernail against the fabric of his steering wheel, trying to pry out some nonexistent nit. It was a bad habit he had that he lapsed into when he was nervous. Lincoln had an ugly steering wheel.
>"It was..." She gave a long, heavy sigh, which made him wince. He wondered if he should have even asked. "It was the usual." Leni finally declared mysteriously.
>"The usual?" He prodded again. He at least had her talking, which was better than having her stuck in her own head, replaying events and probably getting more and more upset.
>"You know how it is." She suddenly snapped. "Always telling me what I can and can't do. 'That's not right Leni, you shouldn't feel that way Leni, we've talked about this Leni!' It's, like, so frustrating!" She huffed, almost throwing her hands up in the air.
>Now he was interested. The matter that had gotten Leni sent to a psychiatrist to begin with had always been murky to the Loud siblings and even Lincoln, who'd gotten pressganged into becoming her assistant, didn't know much more about it than the others despite being the one who usually drove her to and from therapy.
>"I just..." She sighed heavily again. She'd been doing that a lot lately. Lincoln's fingernail scratched out another strip of pleather. "I don't know. It doesn't FEEL wrong, but everyone tells me it is. Doctor Greenberg, Mom...I feel like the more and more sure I get about my feelings the angrier they get at me." She stopped staring out the car window and turned to look at her little brother, her voice plaintive and hurt. "But I'm not trying to make them mad!"
>The deafening shriek of tires screeching boomed through the car, rattling the windows, and the startled young woman instantly threw her arms around Lincoln's shoulders, hurling herself against the divider between the seats to get as close to him as she could.
>The SUV in front of them had stopped short (it was one of those people that braked the moment the light turned yellow) and Lincoln had pumped the brakes, throwing his arm out in front of Leni to stop her from getting swung against her seatbelt.
>The young man took a moment to compose himself when the car finished lurching to a halt. His first immediate instinct was to pull up next to the guy and yell at him, but when he felt his sister trembling against him, her midsection angled awkwardly over the plastic lump between them so she could get as much bodily contact from him as she could, he paused. Lincoln turned to look at Leni. Her eyes were shut, as tight as she could make them, as though she was afraid of what she'd see when she finally opened them, and as he felt her heart jackrabbiting wildly inside her chest while she tried to wiggle over the plastic divider it transformed his anger into a dull ache. She whimpered against his shirt.
>Lincoln took a deep breath, pulling around the car in front of them and driving past the street. He slipped onto the nearby private road that led to Leni's housing complex. The light behind them flashed red.

---

>Lincoln opened the door to his big sister's apartment, gently pushing the still-rattled young woman inside by the small of her back. She'd calmed down a bit by then but it still bothered him to see her that way. Leni had never been the bravest person, but ever since she'd started going to the doctor a couple of years ago it had gotten worse and worse. Especially lately. With her big show coming up she had even more fear and anxiety bouncing around inside her head than usual.
>He led his sister to the island in front of her kitchen, pulling out a seat out for her before rounding over to the counter.
>"Thanks, Lincoln." Leni sniffed as she sat down, hugging her shoulders. Lincoln set a kettle of water to boil and fished through the cupboards for the tea packets. What he really wanted to do was make her was a smoothie, but he knew the din of the blender would just wear on her already tattered nerves. "You're such a gentleman."
>He smiled at her over his shoulder. The young woman felt her back loosen up enough that she could bring herself to hunch over the table.
>"That's bad posture, Leni." Her little brother teased as he poured the boiling water into a mug, dunking the tea packet inside a few times.
>"Leave me alooooone~" She whined, but the smell of the chamomile tea that flooded the small kitchen began to calm her down. Lincoln pulled a spoon out from one of the drawers and wrapped the soggy bag around it by the string, squeezing the last few drops of its essence out into the mug. She watched him work from across the counter and sighed, the tranquility of it all finally allowing her to relax.
>"I love how you do that."
>Lincoln smiled, walking over and handing her the drink before rubbing her back with his mug-warmed hand. The young woman practically purred, pulling her arms in and making herself as small as she could while resting her head against Lincoln's chest. She folded her hands over her tea.
>"Dad taught me. You know how he always was. 'No sense wasting good tea!'
>A flash of sadness passed over his big sister's eyes and she rubbed her cheek against his shirt just a bit. "I miss dad." She murmured quietly.
>"We all do, Len." He shook her shoulders softly, affectionately. "But he'd be so proud of what you're about to do." Leni sighed, her little brother feeling her breath on his skin through his shirt. "We all are! Our sister the fashion designer. You should see how Lori is about it." Lincoln kissed the top of his big sister's head, the familiar smell of her shampooed hair instinctively making him feel at ease. He leaned down near her ear.
>"She tells LITERALLY all her friends," Lincoln whispered in his best valley girl voice.
>"Lincoln!" Leni suddenly squealed, springing back from him a bit so she could stare at his face. Her expression was one of surprised, delighted outrage. Her little brother laughed as she tried to scold him through her giggling. "Don't make fun of Lori! That's totes mean!"
>"You're right." He squeezed her shoulder as Leni simmered down, huffing indignantly over her cup of tea. "I'll literally never do it again."
>"LINCOLN!"

---

>After Leni excused herself so she could go change into her pajamas, mentioning how tired she was, the young man took the opportunity to slip into the bathroom so he could finally call his girlfriend back. Her demeanor upon picking up was about what he expected.
>Mary's voice was generally sweet but poured through his cheap phone's tinny speakers and angry besides she was so shrill it felt like he was dodging throwing stars, especially after attending to his much meeker sister just moments earlier.
>"You agreed to pick me up from the airport a week ago! A week ago, Lincoln!"
>"I know I did, but I left you a message this morning saying that I had to take Leni to the doctor!"
>Her reply was instant, the harried young man recoiling at the venom in her voice. "No, don't give me that! I'm sick of it! It's not even tuesday."
>"I-I know it's not the usual day, but her appointment got moved around." He changed the tone of his voice, instinctively trying to go low and soothing hoping it might calm her down. "This guy's really in demand, we wouldn't have even been able to afford him back when the treatment started if it wasn't for dad's life insurance."
>"Don't talk to me like that! I HATE when you talk to me like that!" Lincoln winced, holding the phone away from his ear. "Don't talk to me like you talk to her. I really am so sick of this, Lincoln! I feel like I'm the only one putting anything into this relationship."
>"That's not true!" He quickly countered, shouting inside the empty bathroom. "You know that's not true!"
>"Sometimes I feel like your sister is your real girlfriend."
>Lincoln could do nothing but seethe quietly. She knew he hated it when she said stuff like that.
>She'd been saying it a lot recently.
>"Don't be gross. You know how much it freaks me out when you-"
>"You know what freaks ME out?" She instantly interrupted him. "Disembarking from a plane after a shitty flight, having to catch two forty pound suitcases thrown out of a carrousel and then spending TWO HOURS waiting for my so-called boyfriend to show up at the airport to pick me up LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD."
>"I left you a message!" He pleaded desperately.
>"Well this is me leaving you a message. We're through, Lincoln." The line went dead and he turned his phone over to stare at the screen. Call ended.
>The young man grit his teeth and hissed. He wanted to pitch it into the wall but settled for grabbing the sink and squeezing it. That'd been the third time he'd gotten dumped this year.
>His grip on the porcelain slowly loosened.
>Lincoln's shoulders slumped hopelessly as he began to truly process what had just happened. He had really thought there was something there with Mary. That things would be different this time.
>Six months. She'd been to his house. He'd introduced her to his mom. She'd played with Lily.
>Lincoln didn't mean to neglect his girlfriends. In fact he worked hard to balance his life so that everybody got some attention, but between studying, taking care of Leni, helping out around the house, babysitting his younger sisters and trying to find a real job there just wasn't enough of him to go around. He wanted to scream. It wasn't like he could just quit on his family, could he? Lincoln ran a hand through his hair and rested his elbow on the countertop, staring miserably at his reflection in the bathroom mirror from between his fingers.
>"What does she know?" Lincoln finally muttered. His reflection looked tired. "She's an only child anyway."
>The young man shut his eyes, taking a deep breath and trying to recompose himself. If he stepped out of the bathroom looking like he did Leni would realize there was someting wrong. He didn't want to upset her, she'd been through enough today. He hoped she hadn't heard any of that.
>With that in mind he straightened up, craned his neck to work out the kink in it, rolled his shoulders and exhaled. In and out. He opened his eyes. His reflection looked a little better. Lincoln turned and pulled open the door.
>Leni was waiting for him right outside the bathroom. The young man gave a long, exhausted sigh of defeat.
>His sister was dressed in an old seafoam green nightgown she'd bought when she was a teenager. It was a little small on her now that she was fully grown but it was something she'd made sure to keep and take care of. She only wore it after particularly hard days, saying she was afraid she'd finish fraying out the already quite thin cloth. Apparently today had merited it. The young woman was staring down at her feet, toes clenching the fabric of the carpet, unable to meet her brother's eyes. He could tell she was upset again.
>For a moment he hated Mary.
>"I...I wanted to ask if you wanted to hang out and watch a movie." He finally noticed the bluray she held in her hands, both of which were now folded over her lap. "I-it's your favorite!" Leni quickly added, holding it out so she could show him. It was obvious she was holding the case up as awkwardly as she was so she could hide her face behind it.
>Lincoln smiled softly and stepped forward, ignoring it and instead dipping his shoulder so he could slip it under her outstretched arms. The heartbroken young man wrapped his hands around her lower waist and hunched over. His sister stiffened in surprise at first but at last melted into the embrace.
>"There, there..." Leni sighed as she hugged him, holding the movie in one hand and stroking his back with the other. She felt conflicted over what just happened. She really hated to see Lincoln get hurt, but secretly she couldn't help but feel a little happy that Mary was gone. Not to mention at finally being able to provide some comfort to her little brother instead of the other way around. "I'm totes here for you."

---

>"'North Of Northampton' is NOT my favorite movie, Leni." Lincoln insisted as he reclined on the couch.
>"It's my favorite of your favorites." She clarified shamelessly, snuggling in next to him. His sister pulled her knees up to her chest (the floor was lava after all), letting herself fall sideways so she could rest her body against her little brother's while she watched. The fashionista was wasting no time in getting comfortable.
>"How thoughtful of you." He smiled wryly.
>"Don't complain!" Leni finally found the remote between the cushions and fished it out, pressing play. The sound of overdramatic violins kicked in as the television displayed a wide, sweeping shot of the british countryside. "It's got that actress you've got a crush on."
>"I don't have a crush on Emily Hawthorne." Lincoln quickly challenged, staring out the large window next to the couch. The sun was going down.
>"I didn't say who I meant~" The young woman sang, pleased at having outsmarted her little brother.
>"Oh haw haw. You obviously didn't mean Lydia Hutchinson, she's like seventy years old." He turned back to face her.
>"I don't know Lincoln, she's pretty sexy for her age! But you're right, I guess it's hard to compete with Emily." Leni kicked her feet happily, worming her way even deeper into the couch cushions and against her little brother's arm.
>"Oh shut up." He grumbled.
>"Shh!" Leni hushed him. He could feel her smirk against his shoulder. "I'm, like, trying to watch a movie."

>The hour passed uneventfully. Lincoln had seen North Of Northampton a thousand times by now, of course, and knew the movie by heart: Ophelia Livingstone, portrayed by a debuting Emily Hawthorne, is a teenaged castor oil heiress in Victorian England. Her wealth and breeding set her above the common man, but her zest for life and love of adventure lead her to escape the strict lessons delivered by her cruel aunt Zelda, a role performed perfectly by the legendary Dame Lydia Hutchinson. Her tutelage is meant to transform her into an elegant and dutiful wife for the aged Count Goring (Darby Styles), who she has been promised to. Can the vibrant young Ophelia stay true to herself or will she come under the thumb of her ambitious aunt? Also, will she find a way to save her father's failing castor oil empire? (Running time: 126 minutes).
>It was just the sort of stuffy, overblown nonsense that Lincoln adored. But he'd watched it so many times by now that after a while he couldn't help but zone out.
>He casted a glance over Leni's small one-bedroom apartment while his sister mouthed the words to the movie, a habit he'd found terribly distracting as a child and had caused more than one argument during family movie night, but now was just one more quirk that endeared her to him.
>The place was sparsely furnished but trendy, the perfect kind of thing for a young woman Leni's age. Most of the furniture and appliances were all modern, included in the apartment, and it was right at the edge of the city so she could get to work quickly but not have to deal with the hustle and bustle and muck when she got back home. The inner walls were thin, which bothered him; sometimes he felt like he could shove his thumb through the cheap plaster if he actually tried. But the outer facade and the glass on the windows was solid, so it was insulated from any noise. It was really very hip and the sort of thing Lincoln would have loved to get for himself if he could afford it. The only thing he didn't like was that most of the windows didn't receive direct sunlight, which he worried would affect his sister's emotional state.
>He heard Emily begin the heartfelt monologue to Castor Co's board of directors that signaled minute eighty two of the movie. His gaze flicked down to Leni, face scrunched up with emotion as she voicelessly yelled at the embezzling scoundrels right along with Emily. He tried not to laugh, he knew the vibration of it would snap her out of it. He wanted to let her enjoy the show after the day they'd had.
>His wandering eyes returned to the apartment but eventually finished following the line of the kitchen, down to the living room and up the couch, over Leni's resting form. The sun had now dipped totally past the horizon and the only light came from the television screen.
>Lincoln couldn't help but notice how his sister's body had changed since back when she'd first bought those PJs. Her legs were longer, for one; she'd been lucky to stop growing when she did or else she certainly wouldn't have been able to use that nightgown anymore, at least not in front of anybody that wasn't her boyfriend. As it was the hemline ended dangerously high above her knees, the material clinging to her hips which, incidentally, had filled out a bit.
>Her breasts were bigger too.
>It was as her figure was suddenly illuminated by another wide-shot of the british countryside to celebrate Ophelia talking the crooks into turning themselves in that Lincoln realized that the material, thin to begin with, had now become so sheer after years of use that under bright light it practically looked like she was in her underwear.
>'Dang it, Leni.' Lincoln snapped his eyes forward, intent now on watching the movie and ONLY the movie.
>Still, ten minutes of an uninspired turn by Darby Styles later (his acting brought the movie down even at the best of times) and his mind got to wandering again.
>He turned back to look at his sister. Heck, it's not like he hadn't seen her in a bathing suit before, right? This was basically the same thing.
>His eyes once again began to drift over her lower body, taking in just how smooth and perfect her legs were. He followed the curve of her slim, womanly hips as they tapered down to her knees. Under them her calves were firm but had a pleasant, feminine give he could appreciate even without having to actually touch them. Her feet were small and delicate; her toenails natural, pale pink and perfectly pedicured. His sister took care of herself and it showed, but more through nutrition and hygiene than exercise. He started to stare at her ass.
>'What am I doing?' The young man wondered with a sudden spasm of guilt. Leni shifted her knees, the glow from the television blazing through her nightgown and exposing the low cut of her panties. His stomach started tying itself into knots as he thought about what his girlfriend...Well, ex-girlfriend, had said. Was she right?
>Lincoln was naturally the type to second-guess himself, and every time Mary brought up his unusually close relationship with his sister he'd end up dwelling on it for the rest of the day. That's why he resented it so much when she knew that and did it anyway. But maybe she had a point? Lincoln wasn't like this around the rest of his family.
>What was it that was actually going on here, he wondered, as his sister pressed her body against his, trying to make herself comfortable. What really was this, at the end of the day? Was he truly just using his helpless, tranquilized big sister as some sort of sick substitute for a real romantic relationship? After all, it's not like Leni could dump him from being her loving little brother. All the intimacy, none of the fear of rejection.
>His mind started sinking deeper into that nervous echochamber, all prompted by a hurt girl's easy jab. Lincoln started to try to examine, think more closely about what it actually was he was doing.
>Maybe at some point his girlfriends sensed that he was entrusting them with less than the whole of his heart? Maybe they WERE the only ones risking anything in the relationship. Maybe all the break-ups he'd been through lately really were his fault.
>Was he subconsciously not committing to his actual romantic relationships just so they'd dump him, simply so he could keep indulging in some weird farce with his big sister? That would be so unfair to Leni. She wouldn't even be able to recognize it, let alone be capable of putting a stop to it.
>His stomach wrenched as he began going deeper and deeper into a quiet tailspin of uncertainty and self-doubt. He was actually starting to panic a little bit. Lincoln felt himself grimace as his finger began scratching the fabric on the armrest of the couch. His mind kept going back to his relationship with his sister, over and over, analyzing it for even a hint of impropriety.
>Leni greeting him in the morning with a smile. Leni holding his hand during a scary movie. Leni asking for a lick of his icecream.
>Leni giving him a lick of hers.
>His stomach turned again and his sudden but deep anxiety was starting to border on actual physical discomfort.

 

>What is it about her?

 

>"Lincoln?"
>"W-what!?" He almost jumped out of his seat as Leni repeated the question. He turned his head right before his sister could look up to see that he was staring at her. He thought she'd still been mouthing along but apparently the terrible Count Goring scene had pulled her out of her trance. Lincoln tried to look natural even with his heart going a mile a minute.
>"What is it about her? ...Emily, I mean. What do you like about her?" His sister's voice was quiet, carrying a note of some emotion he didn't recognize.
>"O-oh. Well..." He hesitated.
>"Is it, like, her chest? Do you prefer small breasts?" His sister wondered aloud.
>"What!? Leni!" Lincoln protested, flustered, already uncomfortable about where the line of inquiry was going.
>"It's a valid question!" She insisted. At some point in the last ten minutes, he wasn't sure when, Leni had finally let herself slip all the way down his body. Her head was now resting in his lap and with every word she said he felt the puff of her warm breath on his leg.
>High on his leg.
>His hand trembled for a moment but he controlled his nerves, sneaking it near her face and running his fingers through her hair. Leni purred happily, but quickly shook her head.
>"Don't change the subject!"
>"What?" Lincoln acted innocent. "I didn't say anything."
>"You know what I mean. Stop it, you're totes making me sleepy and I know you're doing it on purpose." The blonde huffed with irritation.
>He didn't answer her.
>"Is it her butt then?" She continued innocently. Lincoln cut off the stubborn fashionista before she could guess anything else, especially anything that sent his mind down dangerous roads while his sister's face was so close to his crotch.
>"It's her smile, alright!? Geez..." Lincoln complained, miffed at how she wouldn't let it go.
>"Hmm?" Leni adjusted in his lap to blink up at him. Lincoln gazed down at her pure, trusting face. She was waiting for him to go on. He sighed.
>"...She's got a cute little nose and those bright green eyes she has are really soulful, so when she smiles it's like her whole face lights up." The young man finally admitted.
>Leni paused to process this.
>"Plus, I guess I've always had a thing for auburn hair since I was a kid." Lincoln added as an afterthought.
>"Blondes are more fun, y'know!" His sister complained, turning away from him to roughly shove her head back against his lap, clearly no longer caring if he was comfortable or not. Lincoln laughed, moving his hand from her hair to rub his thumb against her shoulder. Her skin felt like silk against the pad of his thumb.
>"And I don't think her smile is that great either." She grumbled.
>"Leni!" Lincoln admonished softly. "What's the matter with you? I thought you liked this movie."
>She didn't answer him. He noticed the smile had left her face. Neither of them said anything for a while.

>"...I'm sorry, Lincoln." She finally muttered.
>"About what?" He asked.
>"About your girlfriend." Lincoln winced, but moved quickly to try and stop her from sinking into one of her bouts of gloominess.
>"You don't have to worry about that, Leni." He insisted.
>"I know it was my fault." His sister spoke without looking at him, eyes still on the TV screen but clearly not paying attention to the movie. Her voice was even, careful, and it was obvious she was trying to keep any emotion from spilling into it. "It's always been my fault. The last one too, and the one before her. I keep ruining your relationships. They don't want to share you with me."
>Lincoln didn't say anything, instead just stroking her arm reassuringly. Her breath hitched and he thought she was about to start crying, but instead she just hissed angrily.
>"Well I don't like sharing you with them either!" She announced brattily.
>The accumulated anger at the unfairness of everything that had happened today had finally overwhelmed her, briefly overpowering the young woman's self-pity. Lincoln didn't know whether to laugh or scold her over what she'd just said.
>It was a selfish sentiment, but it was okay for his big sister to be a little selfish sometimes, right? Lincoln liked it better when Leni threw a tantrum than when she cried anyway.
>"Family comes first, I guess." He offered.
>"Yeah." His sister agreed immediately, the anger still in her voice. "Family..." There was a brief moment of hesitation before she again found her resolve. "Family comes first!"
>After that came another long stretch of silence. For a second Lincoln thought that last spasm of emotion had finally allowed her to finally doze off to sleep, but soon enough she started talking again.
>"I know what I'm doing to you isn't fair." Leni admitted wistfully.
>"That's not true." The little brother didn't know whether he was trying to convince her or himself. "You'd do the same for me."
>"I totes would, but it's still not fair. I'm sorry, Lincoln. You should be out having fun. Enjoying yourself and, like, living life! Instead you're spending your saturday night babysitting your scaredycat big sister." She sighed.
>If only she knew what he was actually feeling right now. Lincoln heard her tone slip back into self-loathing and quickly put a stop to any ugly thoughts she might have been having.
>"There isn't anywhere I'd rather be right now than here with you, Len." He insisted, and meant it.
>Leni lowered her head a little bit to hide her eyes from him, pressing her face against his leg shyly. Lincoln squeezed her shoulder before resting his hand on her waist.
>They both drank in the tranquility for a while. The perfect, quiet contentment of it.
>Until Leni suddenly chirped up again.
>"So who has a better body, me or Emily?"
>Lincoln's only reply was to let his fingers dance from her waist down to her stomach and begin tickling her. His sister wiggled around, laughing and trying to defend herself, while Lincoln's other hand groped blindly over the armrest for the blanket she kept next to the couch.
>"It's a totes valid question!" She cried.
>"Yeah, you're full of those tonight. Let's get that body of yours under a blanket before you catch a cold. Why do you keep the AC so low?" Lincoln hooked his arm around her waist so she couldn't wriggle out of his grasp as he leaned over the side of the couch. The young man felt the warmth of her skin on his easily through the sheer material. He heard himself hiss. "You should throw that nightgown out, you might as well be in your underwear right now."
>"You'd like that, huh Lincoln?" His big sister asked playfully.
>"You are way too sassy!" He at last found the blanket and tossed it over his shoulder, bending over the squirming, struggling blonde and making sure to tuck it over her feet. Leni pretended to complain at first, but eventually pulled the blanket tighter around her chest and snuggled against his side.
>"Nuh-uh. The medication takes out my sassiness." She yawned.
>"That must be why they're increasing the dosage." Lincoln speculated wryly.
>Leni snickered, but he could tell there was a bit of anxiousness there. He'd been feeling it too, despite his best attempts to ignore it, ever since they handed him the new prescription.
>He wanted so badly to help her. More than he was. More than he could. Lincoln gripped her toes softly over the covers when his sister suddenly grabbed his shirt plaintively, looking up at him.
>"Linky?" She asked.
>"Yes, Leni?" He looked down at her.
>"What'd Mary say? Y-You know, that made you call her gross?" Leni seemed hesitant, as though she was afraid of the answer.
>"...It's not important now, sis. She's out of our lives." He assured her, in as low and soothing a tone as he could.
>She was obviously still dwelling on it, but hearing that made her smile and sigh. Lincoln patted the sole of Leni's foot before adjusting back into his seat, going back to stroking her hair as his sister hid her nose beneath the woolen blanket.
>Whatever else happened, this was bliss. Watching a cheesy movie with her little brother while he made sure she was warm and happy and safe. Her hand reached out from under the blanket to grab his, dragging it beneath the covers in front of her face. Her breath warmed his numb, chilly fingers and Lincoln got a hitch in his chest that he couldn't explain. Leni wished every moment was this moment.

>"Hey Lincoln?" Leni yawned again, her little brother now realizing he was going to have to scoop her up and carry her to bed soon before driving home.
>"Yeah, Len?"
>"Do you think Ophelia was right? Everyone told her she had to marry the Count, but she followed her heart."
>"Well, things ended up working out for her so yeah, I guess." Lincoln answered glibly, checking the glowing dials on his watch as he tried to calculate whether he had enough time to do some grocery shopping for his mom on the way back. He'd put his own self-doubt behind him for now. His mother and sisters needed him.
>"But what if, like, they hadn't? What if everything went wrong? Should she have done what other people told her then or should she still have tried to..." Leni yawned once more and stretched a bit on the cushions, letting the question hang as she smacked her lips sleepily.
>Lincoln turned it over in his mind.
>"You should listen to other people's advice, Leni, but in the end the only person you really have to answer to is you."
>"...Thanks, Lincoln." He knew, somehow, that he'd given her the answer she was hoping for. Lincoln's stomach started to churn anxiously again for some reason as he considered the implications of what she'd asked. Leni yawned one last time and mumbled quietly into the blanket before finally falling sleep, the credits rolling on North Of Northampton. "I think you're right..." She whispered, so quietly he almost didn't hear her.
-----------------------------------------------------
>"I think," Lincoln hesitated, stirring a spoonful of cream into his coffee. He sat at his kitchen table, the drapes pulled to not let too much moonlight in. "That Leni has a crush on her therapist."
>His mother paused, the coffee grounds she was pouring into the machine ceasing for a moment as she seemed to consider it, before she tipped the bag again and continued preparing the next pot.
>"What makes you say that?" She asked without turning to look at him, Lincoln getting nothing from the tone of her voice.
>"It's just a feeling I have." He muttered before taking a small sip of coffee and yelping when it burned his tongue. Rita chuckled and turned around, walking over and pulling up a chair so she could sit with her son while the water boiled. She folded her hands under her chin and rested her head, staring at Lincoln with a small smile.
>"Your father always tried drinking his coffee before it had cooled down enough too. I wonder why the men in this family are so impatient?"
>Even now at age twenty one, his mom always found a way to make Lincoln feel like he was still just a kid.
>Rita Loud had aged pretty well; apart from her laugh lines being much deeper than they were when she was younger (Luan had made sure of that), his mother looked the same as she always had. She reached over and pulled her son's mug across the table. She blew on it only three times, and pretty softly at that, but when she pushed it back Lincoln somehow knew it was the perfect temperature.
>"How do you do that?" He asked, taking another sip of his coffee and confirming his suspicions.
>"Mom magic," she smirked. "Now tell me what happened at the doctor's."
>Lincoln gave a heavy sigh over his mug. "Doctor Greenberg's upping her dosage to six hundred milligrams." Rita winced. Neither of them said anything until steam began piping up from the pot, at which point she stood up from the table and fixed herself a cup. The boy could tell by how stiff her shoulders were as she poured the coffee that she was upset, even if she was trying not to look it.
>"I don't like Leni taking that medicine, mom." He said and instantly noticed her get more stressed. He pushed on, heedless. This was important. "It makes her so woozy and quiet. I feel like it makes her have trouble doing things. Like it makes it hard for her to think, even. I know I'm always bugging you about this but are you sure there isn't something else we can do instead? She hates that stuff."
>Rita groped blindly among the shelves for a small plate to place her mug on, seemingly unwilling to look up from it.
>"Lincoln, Leni has...a problem. If the doctor says she needs a higher dose, well, all we can do is give it to her and try to help her ride out the side-effects."
>"But mom," he complained, "You guys won't even tell us what it is she has. I looked up that drug online and it's for..." He could almost hear his mother grinding her teeth. "...Sex disorders. Lori says Leni's a virgin."
>"Lincoln, please!" Rita replied harshly, the porcelain making a small clatter as she set the cup on the plate. Her hands were trembling just a bit, the ringing startling Lincoln as Rita seemed to try and compose herself. His head was swirling with questions. Leni's ailment had always been a seldom-discussed mystery among the Loud children, but with the dosages increasing so often lately whatever it was really seemed to be coming to a head. It hurt him to see his mom so anxious but he also felt worried for his big sister. They were difficult feelings to reconcile.
>"It's the big show coming up." Rita finally insisted her cup now sitting steady on the small porcelain plate as she seemed to find her resolve. She turned and sat at the table again, blowing on her coffee. "It has Leni terribly stressed. It's why she's having all these flare-ups." Even without quite being able to meet her son's eyes, it seemed Rita had read his mind. More mom magic, he supposed. The white-haired boy frowned and stared at his murky reflection in the coffee. He was a little startled when his mother reached across the table and grabbed his hand. He looked up.
>"I know you're worried about your sister." Rita said, her eyes wet and dewy. Lincoln realized he was welling up too. He hadn't realized just how much this was really bothering him until now.
>The young man tried to seem strong when he was with his sister so Leni would feel safe, but the truth was his nerves were just as screwed up as hers. Rita pursed her lips into a small, fragile smile and squeezed her son's hand. After a second he turned his palm over and gently squeezed her back. "We really appreciate everything you've done, Lincoln. All of us. We've all got so much on our plate these days. With Lori expecting again, Luna on tour so often, Luan getting her new comedy club off the ground...I know that we've pushed a big responsibility on you, and that we haven't given you or Leni the support you deserve." After saying all that she took a deep breath and smiled. "But you've been just wonderful, you know that?"
>Lincoln didn't answer her. The only reply he gave was rubbing his thumb against the back of her hand.
>"We know that you didn't sign up for this. We were so proud when you got that art scholarship..." Rita continued, her voice cracking. The tears finally started to pour and Lincoln deeply regretted even bringing it up, his mother's distress upsetting him badly. He bowed his head in instinctive shame, like a child that had done something wrong, as Rita continued to sing his praises. "But then Leni's career took off right at the time everyone else was too busy to really watch over her like she needs. Take care of her like she needs. And then with your father passing away-" She started choking up and Lincoln squirmed in his seat, at this point the guilt of causing his mother pain making him feel like he was pinned under a truck. Rita seemed to notice this and stood up from her chair, shuffling over and sitting down next to him so she could hug the boy. Lincoln went limp as his mom held him gently to her chest, feeling like a brat. For some reason the whole day had felt like that.
>"But you stepped up." She finally declared, the pride obvious in her voice. "You put your own dreams on hold because your big sister had an opportunity and she needed you. And you've been so responsible! Driving her to her appointments, helping her at her job, making sure her contracts are all taken care of...And you even find the time to help me with Lily and the twins, too. They miss their dad so much." His mom sniffled and Lincoln rubbed his face into her shoulder, just like Leni did with him. "We're all so grateful to you. Not everyone would put family first like that. Your father would be proud."
>He could feel himself about to start bawling, but a sharp intake of breath from Rita let him know she was getting to her point. He forced himself to get it together and pulled away from her chest so he could look into her eyes. Her hand fell over his again, his mother staring at him. Her voice was clear, resolute.
>"We've all started making time. Once the show is done things are going to be different. It won't be all up to you anymore, okay? Just fly out to New York with her, take care of what needs to be taken care of, and both of you come back safe."
>Lincoln nodded uncertainly, his mother smiling and pushing her forehead against his for just a moment. It felt incredibly intimate, the kind of one-on-one attention he almost never got as a kid, and the rollercoaster of emotions he'd just been through made him feel exhausted.
>"We'll just do what the doctor says for now, but we'll take another look at all of this afterwards. Just keep it up until then, alright?"
>Lincoln sighed, feeling himself deflate, and took a long gulp of coffee.
>"I just want Leni to be happy, mom." He admitted miserably.
>Rita rubbed her son's back as she stared down wistfully at her own mug. "We all do, honey." She answered. He heard the same sadness in Rita's voice as he'd heard in his sister's. "We all do."



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